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Fear tends to arise in one of two circumstances; firstly when the activity is unknown to us, when we have no experience of it. Secondly, it occurs when - even if we have experience of the activity - we feel we lack control. For social media these two sources of fear combine. For many businesses social networking and online social media are brand new and the lack of any experience makes it potentially scary. But, the biggest issue for many businesses is the realisation that they lack control. Before online social media arose, businesses could control everything (almost) that appeared about them. Even if they suffered at the hands of negative press coverage, it could be dealt with using PR techniques. With social media, such control is almost impossible to exert. Companies realise that and so this ends up being the principal source of fear.

What it really means is that the "game is up". Business models have been based on the control principal for centuries. That no longer works online. It means that the entire basis of business is challenged as a result of social media - and that is the scariest thing for many business owners. They realise that companies cannot be run the way they always have been. The result? If you accept social media into your company, you need a significant, wholesale structural change and a complete altering of mindsets. That's very scary. So, for many companies, the best thing to do is ignore social media in the hope it is all a fad.

Bad news for those companies who think like that...it isn't..! It's here to stay, which means unless businesses radically alter the way they think, they won't be here to stay themselves.

@Patrick - and you can build things in 3D. I do get the shift is hard for people who have their feet very much planted on the ground. As you point out, this is not going away. Email didn't go away. Remember when mobile phones where these big black boxes you carried by a handle? Good on your IT manager for taking the step.

@Gabriele - maybe showing people what you do and they will get their own ideas. This change has not happened overnight, either. The technology we use today has been developing in many tools over a number of years. Ten+ that I can remember. Some will say more. I love Bill Moggridge book Designing Interactions http://www.designinginteractions.com/book

In my company there's never been any fear of social media, more like, no one really felt it was necessary for a while, nor they felt they had time to invest in it.
One day I started taking the situation in my hands like that IT manager did, and I am still slowly educating (such a big word, I don't believe I can educate anyone yet, but you get my point) and building a strategy that hopefully, in the long term, will prove valid.
It's always a learning process, as I often like to remember, and I don't think changes like this can happen overnight.

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